Each year, 25% of older American adults (aged 65+) suffer a fall. And, unfortunately, CDC reports that falls are the main cause of deadly injuries among American seniors.
Learning to use a walking cane may help prevent serious injuries from falls by improving stability and balance while walking. In addition, it can help those with a disability that impairs walking or those who’ve sustained an injury. One 2015 study shows that an estimated 5.8 million American adults (age 65+) walk with the help of a walking cane.
While walking canes can be useful, selecting the right fit isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. From choosing the right kind of cane to making sure you get the right cane height, you have to consider many factors. What’s more, when you find the right cane, it’s vital to use it correctly so you can walk safely.
While choosing the right walking cane for you, it’s important to consult a physical therapist or physician. For example, the physical therapist or doctor may recommend a single point walking cane or a quad cane, or could even recommend a walker for your specific condition.
It’s also helpful to find out what’s available. In our guide below, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons why you might need a walking cane, the various factors to consider when shopping, as well as our top walking cane picks to help you make the right choice.
Why You Might Need a Walking Cane
Before finding the best walking cane, you have to first determine whether it’s the right mobility aid for you. As canes provide support to only one side of your body, they’re suitable for:
- People with back pain
- People recovering from leg or hip surgery
- People recovering from stroke
- People with a disability or injury that affects one side of the body only
- People with arthritis affecting the hips, back, knees, or ankles
- People who need a bit of added support for stability and balance
If you have serious balance problems or your whole body weight requires support, a wheelchair, rollator, or walker is probably a better mobility aid for you.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Walking Cane
Once you’ve settled on a walking cane as your best mobility aid, it’s time to select one. To zero in on the best cane, you should consider the type of cane, type of cane handle, height, design, weight capacity, and material you’d need.
Types of Walking Canes
Walking canes come in many different designs, shapes, and sizes, with each providing a variety of benefits. Here are the main kinds of walking canes available today.
Single Point Canes
As the name implies, single point canes feature just one support point at the tip and are the most common kind of walking canes.
Quad canes have four support points at the bottom, making them the steadiest cane type on the market. With four rubber feet creating a wider base, this cane provides added stability to users.
If you have balance issues due to a recent vertigo, stroke, or another problem, this is the best type of cane to buy. A quad cane isn’t the fastest to walk with, but it’ll be there to steady you in case you lose your balance.
Tripod canes are an excellent alternative to both single point canes and quad canes. They combine the qualities of the two types into a versatile cane that’s perfect for almost any older adult. Since they have three points instead of four or one, they can just as effectively provide support and balance.
Lighter than quad canes, tripod canes allow you to walk faster and farther without getting tired quickly. They are also steadier and sturdier than their single-point counterparts, so they’ll also provide adequate balance to help you avoid a fall.
As the name implies, a hemi walker is more or less like a walker. With a much bigger base than that of a quad cane, it’s often used by people transitioning from or to a walker. While it provides the best support, it’s more cumbersome to use on stairs.
This is a standard cane—typically a handy grip cane—that easily folds. Once folded, it can be carried in a bag or a wrist strap.
A folding cane is lightweight, so it’s perfect for use on the go. It also has adjustable height but might not be as strong as other canes.
Types of Walking Cane Handles
When shopping for a walking cane, it’s vital to also consider what kind of handle will best fit your needs. To figure this out, you have to consider two factors—the design of the handle as well as its type of grip.
Shape of Handle
When it comes to the shape of a cane’s handle, here are the options to consider:
Crook cane: This standard cane features a rounded handle that gives users lots of freedom to choose the most comfortable place to use it and makes it convenient to hook on the arm or elsewhere, which especially comes in handy when opening doors. Crook handle canes are also commonly referred to as tourist handle canes and crook walking sticks.
T-handle cane: Also called a straight-handle cane, this cane is perfect for users with weak hands because they’re designed to decrease hand fatigue and stress.
Offset cane: This type of cane handle has a question mark-like shape, with the area below the handle slightly poking out. This helps distribute the user’s weight over the cane’s body or shaft, making it more comfortable to use. Almost all quad canes on the market today feature this kind of handle.
Fritz cane: A Fritz handle cane looks like a T-handle cane but features an extra curve designed to be more comfortable for use and to take away pressure on the fingers and hand, making it the perfect fit for those who have arthritis.
Many people opt for the Fritz cane thanks to its traditional, classy style. When comparing different types of cane handles on the market, the Fritz cane ranks highest in terms of both comfort and popularity.
Handle Grip Options
You should also consider the kind of grip you should have on your walking cane handle.
- Foam grips are soft and comfortable
- Large grips are perfect for joint pain and arthritis
- Gel grips help reduce hand fatigue and stress
- Orthopedic grips are made to fit your hands
Types of Walking Cane Tips
While the tip of a walking cane may seem small and unimportant, torn or worn cane tips are unsafe. Fortunately, it’s easy and cheap to replace your cane’s tip, so make sure to do it on the regular for your own safety as well as that of your family.
When choosing replacement cane tips, you’ll first need to know the dimensions of your cane’s base and find a matching size of cane tip. This will typically be in the range of 0.5” to 1”, including 0.625”, 0.75”, and 0.875”.
Once you’ve figured out which measurements you need, you’ll then need to pick your ideal cane tip.
Rubber cane tips: The standard rubber cane tips are the most common type of cane tip. They provide great traction and typically feature a steel insert that increases durability.
Quad tips: A quad cane tip is attached to one tip on the walking cane but has three to four prongs. This type of cane tip provides added traction, weight capacity, and stability, and lets the walking cane stand upright by itself. Some users prefer using self-standing tips rather than the larger quad cane.
Walking Cane Materials
Wood: Wood canes are the most traditional of walking canes and typically feature a round handle. Made from different types of wood, these canes are inexpensive and feature a rubber tip underneath for gripping various surfaces.
Wood canes aren’t height-adjustable and are typically cut to the right length by the user. When cutting the cane, take great care as you only have one chance to get it right.
Steel: Steel walking canes are typically the strongest and rank highest when it comes to weight capacity.
Aluminum: The main benefit of walking canes made from aluminum is that they’re stronger and lighter than those made from wood. Most walking canes on the market are made from aluminum. These canes have a rubber tip underneath for a better grip on various surfaces.
Walking Cane Height
Ensure that the cane you choose has the right height for your frame. Most canes can be adjusted in height but be sure to adjust to the right height for good posture and safety.
How to Measure the Right Cane Height
- With your regular shoes on, stand straight on an even surface
- Place your arms by your sides
- Measure from the lowest part of the wrist to the ground and write down the measurement. This is the right cane height for you. You might need someone to help you with this step. To take measurements, you can use a tape measure, tailor’s tape, or yard stick.
- If the walking cane you want to buy is adjustable, be sure to adjust to the measurement you got. For wood canes, ensure there’s enough length to trim it to the right size.
Walking Cane Weight Capacity
Walking canes are made to support your whole height and provide balance as well. Be sure to choose the right capacity for you.
Walking Cane Design
Many walking canes today are available in interesting colors and patterns to suit various styles and tastes.
Traveling Walking Canes
Folding walking canes are ideal for travel. You can buy a regular cane as well as a folding one for traveling.
How Much Does a Walking Cane Cost?
Compared to other mobility aids, walking canes are incredibly affordable. The most basic folding cane goes for less than $20.
More expensive canes, with luxury materials and well-designed handles, cost much more—often up to $250. On average, a standard walking without fancy designer features costs approximately $30.
Our Top Picks
We’ve covered some common types of walking canes, but below are our top picks for each, based on various factors, including weight capacity, design, use, materials, and portability.
Harvy Canes Men Scorched Cherry Derby Cane
The Men Scorched Cherry Derby Cane from Harvy Canes is one of the best wooden canes on the market. Its classic finish makes it stand out. The walking cane is designed with style and fashion in mind more than functionality.
Although it might not last as long as a steel or aluminum cane, it’s more attractive. Its derby handle and scorched cherry color add to its appeal.
- Fashionable and functional
- Attractive finish
- Stable design
- Quality cane at a great price
- Not height-adjustable
- Not suitable for heavy people
Travelon Walking Cane and Seat
This walking seat from Travelon is designed to ensure that the user walks a bit longer. It’s made of sturdy, lightweight aluminum to accomodate not only heavy people but also not tire the user while walking. It folds easily into a basic cane when you’re taking a walk and collapses with three legs for maximum stability when you sit down.
The seat is super comfy—its 9-inch diameter can accommodate a wide range of body frames. The seat can accommodate a person weighing around 250 pounds.
- Sturdy enough to support someone weighing 250 pounds
- Can work as a chair and a cane
- Features a long-lasting aluminum construction
- The handle can be used to stand or sit
- Cane doesn’t support taller people
- The height of the cane isn’t adjustable
Medline Offset Handle Walking Cane
The Offset Handle Cane from Medline is designed with ergonomics in mind to offer maximum support and comfort. It centers the user’s weight over its sturdiest area, making it super stable.
With the push of a button, you can adjust its height to fit your needs. Better yet, a locking ring secures it to ensure it is rattle-free and quiet for long distance treks.
- Strong and sturdy design ensures durability
- Locking ring prevents slippage
- Provides comfortable grip and centered weight
- Adjustable height makes it easy to use
- Weak cane handle
KingGear Adjustable Cane
The KingGear Adjustable Cane could be a good adjustable folding cane for you if you’re looking for one. You can adjust the height easily to suit your height and fold it for simple storage afterwards. This lightweight walking cane has a stable base for maximum endurance and safety.
The manufacturer says that the cane’s design resulted from partnering with physicians. Through these partnerships, KingGear designed a cane that’s ideal for individuals with mobility challenges. The cane is also slip-resistant thanks to its anti-marking rubber tip.
- Durable and sturdy design
- Its height may be adjusted to suit different people
- Features a light for walks at night
- Features a slip-resistant three-tip bottom
- Folds for easy storage and transportation
- Its rubber bottom soaks up shock
- The light is difficult to replace
- The cane can be quite noisy while in use
Vive Quad Cane
Vive Quad Cane can be the perfect fit if you’re looking for a lightweight but long-lasting cane. With its design, you can easily take it along wherever you go.
Its rubber base gives its traction on all surfaces, making it more stable. The base features four prongs that allow you to walk on any surface without worrying about slipping.
This cane features a customized contoured hand grip to make it safe and comfortable. Made from anodized aluminum, this cane is not only lightweight but also corrosion-resistant.
- Lets you walk on any terrain
- Adjustable cane shaft
- Ergonomic base setup for extra stability
- Comfortable customized contoured hand grip
- Lightweight and thus easy to carry it along wherever you go
- Less than comfortable handle
- Rubber tips wear out fast
FAQs on How to Find the Best Walking Canes
Answer: The best walking canes on the market today include:
- HurryCane Freedom Edition Cane
- HoneyBull Walking Cane
- Hugo Mobility Quadpod
- Carex Soft Grip Adjustable Cane
- Duro Med Walking Canes
- Nova Designer Offset Cane
- DMI Deluxe Cane
- Harvy Canes Derby Scorched Cherry Cane
- Self Defense Plain Jane Cane
Answer: To pick the right walking cane for your needs, be sure to check the bend of your elbow and your wrist height.
With the cane in hand, your elbow needs to bend at an angle that’s comfortable enough; around 15 degrees. If you’re using the cane primarily for balance, you can bend your elbow a bit more. And with your arm by your side, the cane’s top should be able to meet the bottom end of your wrist.
Answer: To find the right size of walking cane to buy, divide your height by two. As a general rule, the right size of cane is within an inch of half a person’s height. You can use this guideline if the user isn’t available to be measured.
Answer: The best walking canes for balance problems are:
- Vive Quad Cane
- Hugo Quad Walking Cane
- NOVA Sugarcane Cane
- HealthSmart Quad Cane
- Hugo Mobility Quadpod Cane
- NOVA 4-Legged Designer Quad Cane
- Drive Medical Designer Folding Cane
Answer: Yes it’s different. A walking cane is designed to ease pressure when walking regularly and is used as an everyday mobility aid, while a walking stick is primarily used for stability and balance when taking short walks.
Summary on How to Find the Best Walking Canes
Canes can be an excellent mobility aid for those who need extra support and stability while standing and walking. But with the glut of information available online and the variety of designs on the market, it can be quite difficult to sift through the options and find the best one for your needs.
In fact, choosing the best walking cane can be a matter of trial and error. And since you now have more than enough information on how to select the best walking cane, it shouldn’t be that difficult to make an informed choice.
For some people who need help with mobility around the house, there are also several other options to think about. For instance, if the main concern is stairs, then perhaps it could be a great idea to have a stair lift installed.